Ferdinand Loyen du Puigaudeau

(1864 - 1930)

Ferdinand Puigaudeau was born in Nantes on 4th April 1864, the son of a local businessman and his moderately wealthy wife of Dutch descent. Ferdinand’s parents were divorced when he was six, whereupon he was sent to live with a maternal uncle in St. Sulpice en Pareds before continuing his education in Paris. Clearly an independent spirited youth, Puigaudeau left school and travelled widely. From his childhood he had been a talented draughtsman and his interest in painting continued, however, rather than enrol in one of the academies, Puigaudeau was largely self-taught, studying old masters and the work of his contemporaries.

In 1886, Puigaudeau moved to Pont-Aven in Brittany, a village that supported a well-established colony of artists from England, Sweden, Holland and, of course, France. Here he was befriended by Paul Gauguin (1848-1903) with whom he studied, and was invited by Gauguin to accompany himself and Charles Laval on their visit to Martinique in 1887, Puigaudeau declined as he was about to carry out his military service. He subsequently was awarded a travel grant and visited Belgium and Sweden accompanied by the Swedish artist Allan Österlind (1855-1938). In Belgium, Puigaudeau encountered the Group of XX, an avant-garde movement that counted James Ensor (1860-1949), Theo van Rysselberghe (1862-1926) and Georges Lemmen (1865-1916) amongst its members. Ensor’s influence is clearly evident in Puigaudeau’s figurative works and night scenes of the 1890’s. In Pont-Aven under Gauguin’s tuition, Puigaudeau gradually moved from his traditional style to a more modern style, based on the divisionist or pointillist technique, small adjacent brushstrokes of colour.

In 1900 Puigaudeau was awarded a silver medal at the Exposition Universalle in Paris, he exhibited at the renowned dealer Durand-Ruel and befriended Edgar Degas (1834-1917), who bought two of his paintings, Pierre-August Renoir (1841-1919) and Claude Monet (1840-1926) were also close friends.

Like so many of his contemporaries Puigaudeau travelled to Venice, in 1904, with the intention of painting sufficient works for a further exhibition at Durand-Ruel. However, on his return to Paris this whole body of work was confiscated as surety against a loan and sold. Puigaudeau was destitute and moved to the village of Kervaudu in Brittany. Here he continued to paint in his distinctive style, producing a strong body of work, Breton landscapes, scenes set around his house and still lifes; however, scarred by his experience in Paris he sold his work through local galleries, and to collectors in Brittany. Degas remained a friend and referred to Puigaudeau as “l’ermite de Kervaudu”. Puigaudeau died in Kervaudu on 19th September 1930.

A retrospective exhibition was held at the Musée de Pont-Aven in 1999. His works can be found in museums in: Brittany; Morlaix; Nantes; Quimper and Saint-Nazaire.

Bibliography: E. Bénézit, Dictionnaire des Artistes
Antoine Laurentin, Ferdinand du Puigaudeau 1864-1930 Catalogue Raisonnée, Paris, 1989